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What makes the food stick to the pot or pan?

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4 replies to this topic

#1 skyhskyh

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 02:01 AM

What makes the food stick to the pot or pan?

e.g. Pan frying a piece of fish on a pan, poaching an egg in a pot

What's happening there?

#2 Keith_W

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 04:32 AM

The surface of the pan might seem smooth, but on a microscopic level it is full of jagged peaks and valleys. When metal heats up, heat travels through the metal crystals causing them to expand and shrink relative to each other. If you place something cold on the metal, it immediately cools the surface, causing the metal crystals to shrink and "grab" on to the food. When the pan gets hot again, the metal crystal expands and "releases" the food - this is why a piece of fish immediately sticks to the pan, but gets released after a certain period of time.

To get around the problem, there are several strategies. A layer of oil helps somewhat, but does not completely alleviate the problem. By far the best way (IMHO) is the Chinese solution of stir fry - the pan is superheated, such that any water that contacts the pan immediately evaporates causing the food to float on a bed of steam. The cook keeps the food moving around the pan, preventing areas of the pan from cooling and "grabbing" onto the food. Also, a seasoned wok has clumps of grease between the metal crystals, stopping them from grabbing onto pieces of food.
There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

#3 dcarch

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 08:13 AM

The science of adhesion is very complex and there are many reasons why two dissimilar material adhere to each other beside mechanical stickiness as stated by Keith above.

An adhesive tape can stick to an optically flat glass very well, two flat surface with a drop of water in between will require more than 14 lbs / sq. in. of force to pull apart, one metal can be electrically plated (bond) to another metal -----------.

Just use lot's of oil, a non-stick cookware and enjoy your dinner. LOL!


#4 Bjs229

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 11:43 AM

Too low of heat for the job. Wrong pan for the job. Unseasoned pan. Dirty pan.

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#5 skyhskyh

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:30 PM

Will high heat then avoid this food sticking to pan?

In other words, the hotter, the non stick it will be? Or is it that if too hot, also sticky?